MOST sports fans are lucky because in most sports they know the best are going to meet the best. Whether it is the Super Bowl, the World Cup, the Olympic Games, the World Series, Wimbledon or the Masters at some stage the best will be pitted against the best when the contestants are at their peak. Pity we poor boxing fans who can only watch in envy as our “best” rarely meet the “best” or when they do too often they are past their best or at least one of them is. An example is that when Floyd Mayweather Jr and Manny Pacquiao eventually fought, both of them were past their peak. Still great fighters but a couple of years past their best. British examples would be Ricky Hatton vs. Junior Witter and Amir Khan vs. Kell Brook; big fights at the time that never happened. There is usually more than one factor that frustrates these fights. Different TV commitments, different promotional ties, ego and of course money.
The mandated IBF middleweight title defence for Saul Alvarez against Sergey Derevyanchenko hardly compares to Mayweather vs. Pacquiao but it was interesting match and for me Derevyanchenko was capable of giving Alvarez a very tough fight. Since Alvarez did not want to give Gennady Golovkin a third match – at this time – it was as good a middleweight title fight as we could expect. But of course it is not going to happen because the respective teams could not come to a commercial agreement and the IBF stripped Alvarez of their title. So was it down to different TV commitments, promotional issues or ego? No this was purely about money. With the $300+ million contract deal Alvarez has with DAZN there is going to be very big money involved regardless of who he fights. If the promotion of the bout is decided on a bidding process then Derevyanchenko would be entitled to 35% of the winning bid. Golden Boy did not want the fight to go to purse offers because they would face competition from Derevyanchenko’s promoter and would therefore be forced to put in a high bid to ensure they won. Not surprisingly they chose to negotiate with Derevyanchenko’s team aiming to get Derevyanchenko’s team to accept a figure which would fall far short of the 35% in a purse bid. The IBF gave extension after extension to the date by which there needed to be an agreement as the two side played brinkmanship. You had Golden Boy’s position being: we are not going to get anything like 35% but we will offer a lot more money than you have ever made for a fight and Derevyanchenko’s team saying: the gap between the 35% and what you are offering is too wide, we are worth more. Nobody blinked so there was no deal and with Golden Boy not interested in a purse bidding the IBF had no alternative but to strip Alvarez because his team walked away from the table making no commitment to defend the title. Oscar De La Hoya branded the IBF decision “an insult to boxing” which is a strange way to say Derevyanchenko wanted more money than we were willing to give him so we effectively gave up the title by walking away.
The two boxers are the real losers in this. Alvarez has lost a title and has no ready opponent. With the WBC “elevating” him to Franchise champion and now replacing him with Jermall Charlo as their champion he no longer has the WBC title. There would be zero interest in fighting Ryota Murata and the WBA No 1 is … Golovkin! The talk is of a fight with Demetrius Andrade to unify the WBA and WBO titles which seems logical but a very hard sell. Derevyanchenko can’t be happy at losing the chance to fight for a huge purse and might be wishing his team had blinked but it now looks like he will get a fight with Golovkin for the vacant IBF title. As the mandatory challenger he will have a strong bargaining position and for me has a good chance of beating Golovkin. Money makes the world go around, but in this case the wheels came off.
Anybody want a lovely belt? The WBC had one specially made for Alvarez’s proposed fight on September 14-15 to celebrate Mexican Independence. Now there is no Alvarez fight on that date. I was going to call for bids for it but perhaps we could negotiate…
You can’t keep the heavyweights out of the news. Disgracefully Jarrell Miller says he expects to fight again in October which makes a complete mockery of all the testing. I am surprised that VADA don’t walk away or at least have a say in whether or not a boxer should be banned and for how long. That’s what the French Agency did over Tony Yoka.
So Tyson Fury is going to fight Otto Wallin and Hughie Fury is going to fight Alex Povetkin – shouldn’t that be the other way around? Wallin is better than Tom Schwarz but probably his best result was outpointing fellow Swede Adrian Granat – who was knocked out inside a round by Alex Dimitrenko. It strikes me that Tyson Fury is now having the fights he should have had before fighting Deontay Wilder but the important thing is that he does not lose between now and the return with Wilder.
The transition from top level amateur to pro success has not always worked out for Cuban boxers. The latest to switch over is 25-year-old Robeisy Ramirez who has his first pro fight in Philadelphia on Saturday. As an amateur Ramirez was Cuban champion five times, won gold medals at the Youth Olympics, the World Youth Championships, the Pan American Games and both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics beating Andrew Selby, Michael Conlan and Shakur Stevenson. Surely he can’t fail – can he?
Stevenson will get a world title shot some time this year. He and Joet Gonzalez have been paired to fight for the WBO feather title recently vacated by Oscar Valdez. There is talk of Jose Carlos Ramirez defending the WBC super-lightweight title against Jack Catterall on the same show.
Other title fights lined up in date order are John Riel Casimero defending the interim WBO bantam title against Cesar Ramirez in Manila on August 24 with the winner to meet champion Zolani Tete and on the same night in Nagoya Kosei Tanaka puts the WBO flyweight title on the line against Puerto Rican Jonathan Gonzalez whilst in Puerto Rico Vic Saludar defends the IBF minimumweight title against Wilfredo Mendez, Josh Warrington is defending the IBF feather title on October 12 in Leeds. Takoucht is No 5 with the IBF but with the first two slots vacant he is effectively No 3 and owes that high ranking to winning the IBF International title and not the quality of his opposition. He is No 17 with the EBU. There is talk of Jerwin Ancajas facing Carlos Cuadras in October with the Filipino’s IBF super-fly title on the line. Now that could be a great fight. Jamel Herring is defending the WBO super-feather title against Lamont Roach on November 9 and there will be a return between Julian Williams and Jarrett Hurd on December 14 as Hurd gets a change to regain the IBF and WBA super-welter titles he lost to Williams in May.
It seems to have been just one blow after another for our sport. We had the tragic deaths of Maxim Dadashev and Hugo Santillan then French boxer/actor Jean Claude Bouttier died on August 3 at the age of 74. Bouttier was one of the most popular boxers of his era. He was European champion but had the misfortune of being around at the same time as Carlos Monzon and lost twice to Monzon in world title fights. After he retired he worked as a commentator and then moved in to films and had a very successful career there. One day later former WBC flyweight champion Colombian Prudencio Cardona died on August 4 at the age of 67. He was the fourth Colombian boxer to win a world title –his brother Ricardo was the third. Prudencio had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s. There was another death with Polish fighter Dawid Kostecki completing suicide by hanging himself in his prison cell.
The former WBC welterweight champion Carlos Baldomir jailed for sexual abuse of his daughter who was only eight. His crime had nothing to do with boxing but his world title was a convenient hook to make the story bigger.
On a personal level I lost a close friend in Beau Williford who died on July 31. Beau boxed pro as a heavyweight and then trained and managed fighters but for me the defining aspect of Beau’s life was the work he did with the youth of his home town of Lafayette. He took in many problem kids and turned their lives around. He did not just teach them boxing he taught them discipline. He also insisted on responsible behaviour and that they maintained acceptable school grades. He was teaching boxing but he was also building citizens. That work is done in so many gyms around the world.
I dropped into a gym in Dundee run by Greg Menzies a couple of times and saw the same commitment to the youths working there. Last weekend boxers Eric Walker and John Harding Jr had important bouts. Walker won but Harding lost – and yet they are both winners. When younger they both spent long terms in jail. Boxing changed their lives gave them a fresh start that’s a route that many other young men have followed. Yes boxing is a dangerous sport and naturally the tragedies and the bad publicity taint it but in almost every city in the world there are guys like Beau and Greg who give their time to help the local youth but good news is no news so that contribution by boxing to the citizens of the future goes unreported and largely unrecognised.
Last crime report. A mugger in Mexico City mugged a guy and stole his watch. The guy he mugged was Julio Cesar Chavez. Not sure if that counts as bravado or brainless.